The Chilean Embassy to the Department of State


Nitrate and Copper

Existing conditions for the avoidance of greater external and internal disturbances of the public order moved the President of Chile to announce to the nitrate and copper industrialists the decision of his Government to refuse any reduction in the production of these industries.

It is to be noted:

  • 1st That the refined copper is a United States investment;
  • 2nd That United States investments in the nitrate industry comprise approximately 50% of the present production;
  • 3rd That both these industries provide Chile with the necessary exchange for the payment of the foreign government debt;
  • 4th That the copper industry provides approximately $5,000,000 for service on the foreign obligations of the Development Corporation;
  • 5th That the copper industry employs approximately 40,000 men and the nitrate industry about 25,000.

The anxiety provoked in the Government and public opinion of Chile, by a possible reduction in the production of these industries, is understandable.

The Chilean Government deems it prudent to call special attention in order to obtain, at least, a maintenance of the present production quota.

A favorable measure for the nitrate problem would be that of bringing about an increase in prices on the part of American producers to the same level of Chilean nitrate, as has always been done up to now. Another emergency measure would be that the United States Government absorb an annual quota of 300,000 tons.

With reference to copper, the Chilean Government has been given the impression that the United States would not be in a position to absorb any part of the production of Chilean copper, which will, undoubtedly, aggravate the copper problem. The Chilean Government is anxious to know the attitude of the United States Government in regard to the nitrate and copper problems and what their policy would be in order to obtain new world markets for these products.